The intrusive fear of being isolated, lonely or alone is called monophobia. This fear can also present itself when the person is in the company of others. Monophobia can affect relationships, social life, and career. Psychotherapy may help people overcome this fear.
This blog is a comprehensive guide to understanding monophobia, its causes, symptoms, prevention, and treatment.
What is monophobia?
Monophobia, also called autophobia, makes people feel extremely anxious when they are alone, isolated, or lonely. This may hinder relationships, social life, and career. If a person suffering from monophobia may feel alone even in a comforting place like their home or in the company of other people it may result in severe anxiety attacks.
In such cases, the fear is centred around worries about isolation, abandonment, feeling alone in a crowd, and going home to be alone.
What are the symptoms of monophobia?
People who experience phobic disorders such as monophobia are usually aware that their fear is irrational. However, they are still unable to control their physical reactions when they find themselves in such situations. Every individual experiences monophobia differently.
Some people may feel unsafe until they are with other people. Whereas in a few others, feeling alone can develop into intense feelings of sadness, dread, or anxiety. When people are alone, other symptoms may present themselves. The following are the symptoms:
- Heart palpitations
- Trembling or shaking
- Dizziness and lightheadedness
- Excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis)
- Shortness of breath (dyspnea)
- Upset stomach, or indigestion (dyspepsia)
When should you call the doctor?
People must call the doctor if they experience:
- Panic attacks
- Persistent anxiety that interferes with their daily life or sleep
- Symptoms of depression, or substance use problems
What are the causes of monophobia?
The causes of monophobia as with other phobias are not well known. Some of the likely causes of monophobia are:
- Witnessing a traumatic incident without anyone’s support
- A family history of the same phobia or a different phobia
- Feeling abandoned in childhood due to parental divorce, or death in the family
- Other distressing experiences encountered during childhood
What are the complications of monophobia?
It is not practical for people to expect someone to always be with them. There can be times when everyone has to stay alone. Due to the fear of being alone, people can remain in unhealthy or abusive relationships that negatively affect their life. They can also demand friends or family not to leave them, which may damage relationships. Or they can obsessively monitor their partner for the fear of breaking up. Additionally, monophobia increases the risk of depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and substance use disorder.
How is monophobia treated?
The clinical treatment options for monophobia are similar to treatment options for other phobias. All phobias are based on irrational fears and the treatment aims to reduce the frequency and intensity of these fears. The treatment for monophobia generally involves a combination of the following:
Techniques such as exposure therapy and cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) are frequently used. In exposure therapy, the therapist can gradually and progressively expose patients to their fears in a safe, controlled manner and environment. This therapy is known to combine various practical methods that help individuals manage their fear-inducing extreme anxiety better.
Anti-anxiety or blood pressure medications such as beta-blockers may temporarily help people to overcome the fear of being alone. The use of medications can be stopped once a patient completes the therapy.
Monophobia can negatively impact peoples’ relationships and their ability to work because they are constantly living in fear of being alone. Phobias are treatable and not something that people need to live with. With the right combination of treatments, patients suffering from monophobia can improve various ways to manage and understand their reactions, feelings, and thoughts.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between fear of being alone and loneliness?
When people are lonely, a feeling of sadness sets in about their social connections in life.
But with people suffering from monophobia, the fear of being alone, isolated, or lonely starts presenting itself irrespective of the number of loved ones and friends present in their life.
How is monophobia diagnosed?
Mental health professionals can diagnose monophobia. At first, they will ask for the person’s medical history to check if a physical problem is affecting their mental health. Afterwards, the doctor may perform a psychological evaluation which includes asking a lot of questions about the patient’s daily activities and feelings.
People are diagnosed with monophobia when the fear of being alone causes extreme anxiety such that it interferes with their daily routine. In certain cases, people have more than one phobia at a time. This makes it more challenging for them to manage monophobia. In such cases, people must talk with the doctor about their fears.
How common is monophobia?
It is hard to know the exact number of people who have a specific phobia such as monophobia. Many people may keep the fear to themselves or may not recognize that they have monophobia.
What are the other names for monophobia?
Monophobia is also called autophobia, eremophobia, and isolophobia.